LONDON (ShareCast) - 1630: Close The FTSE made huge gains today, boosted by events in the US which saw leaders come to a last-minute agreement to push back the threat of the so-called 'fiscal cliff'. Miners put in a strong performance throughout the day, leading the majority of stocks higher, while just a few of the typically 'safer' stocks moved lower. In UK economic news, manufacturing finished 2012 on a positive note after hitting a 15-month high in December. The PMI rose back above the 50.0 no-change level in December, beating expectations by registering 51.4. Meanwhile, it was reported that retailers are facing another year of distress following a rise in the number of High Street chains going under. The FTSE closed up 130 points at 6,027.
1550: John Lewis department store was a big earner during the Christmas season, with sales reaching record highs, the UK retailer revealed Wednesday. The company made £684.8m from sales for the five weeks to December 29th, up 14.8 per cent from the year before. Most sales were made in the week leading up to December 22nd with the upmarket retailer posting 157.8m pounds, up 26.5 per cent on 2011 for the equivalent week. In economic news, a government minister has indicated that future rises in train fares could be scrapped following a back-lash from angry commuters who have suffered an average increase of 3.9 per cent in their travel costs, rising to 10 per cent in some parts of the country. Norman Baker, the Lib-Dem Rail Minister, has said the government wants to put a stop to above-inflation price increases in the rail industry, as he admitted that the system is "not ideal". The FTSE is up 136 at 6,034.
1500: The ISM manufacturing sector purchasing managers´ index for the month of December has come in at 50.7 points (Consensus: 50.5), versus 49.5 for the month of November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) . Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) is off after analysts at Oriel Securities warned this morning that: "we think that things have got much tougher here since the Interims, and we think that the decision to offer 10p a litre off petrol for 60 pound spenders from 27th December to January 2nd is a response to an uninspiring Christmas." "In the short term the shares look vulnerable," the broker adds. FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) up 142 to 6,040.
1455: Interesting commentary from technical analysts at Cantor Capital. First (Other OTC: FSTC - news) and foremost, they highlight that the light trading volumes typical of the Christmas period may make it easier for the Footsie to breach resistance levels. Hence, they will await confirmation that any such 'break' is sustainable. "Traditionally this confirmation comes with the S&P 500 also posting higher highs. As a result the 1,471 September 2012 high on the S&P 500 is a pivotal level to monitor in the days ahead, without such confirmation we remain nervous of a possible profit taking led snap lower," they say. They also point out their belief that the recent strength in Sterling may be part of the reason why the top share index has been leading the S&P 500, a pattern which has also piqued their attention. Hence, they believe that for now some ought to opt to go ´short´ the UK´s leading equity benchmark and long the S&P 500.
1410: The FTSE 100 has extended gains and is now trading 136 points higher at 6,034 with US stock futures pointing to a strong start on Wall Street. Futures for the Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI - news) , S&P 500 and Nasdaq are up 1.5 per cent, 1.75 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively. The Markit US manufacturing PMI fell from 54.2 to 54.0 in December, but came in ahead of the 53.6 forecast. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the ISM manufacturing data for December due out at 15:00 (London time), which is expected to rise from 49.5 to 50.4
1304: Although some observers are emphasising the fact that new manufacturing export orders fell at their slowest rate since last September in the UK, this is Barclays Research´s take on today´s PMI figures: "The PMI survey has been painting a more downbeat picture of the manufacturing sector than official data in recent months and, despite the improvement in December, the gap between the two remains sizeable. Overall, we think conditions in the manufacturing sector remains difficult and we forecast manufacturing output to have contracted by 1.8% in the fourth quarter. We expect manufacturing to experience only a slow recovery this year (0.5% annual growth)."
1152: The only quoted shale-play in Great Britain for some, shares of IGas Energy are again shooting higher this morning. Neverthless, Charles Stanley (LSE: CAY.L - news) also expects Weir to be a beneficiary of the Climate Change Secretary's recent lifting of the suspension on UK shale gas exploration (fracking was suspended in the UK after shale gas exploration triggered two small earthquakes), the broker wrote this morning. Silence Therapeutics is another big mover in the AIM patch today. FTSE 100 up 130 to 6,027.
1143: Oil field services firm Lamprell (LSE: LAM.L - news) is jumping by the most in six weeks after saying it has received banking waivers for its debt facilities. FTSE 100 up 124 to 6,021.
1127: This is what Nomura told clients this morning regarding the mini-can kicking Stateside overnight: "Even though the worst-case scenario has been avoided, our US economics team still expects a significant economic slowdown early in the year due to the fiscal drag and continued, contentious debate which is expected to weigh on business and consumer activity, while financial markets continue to deal with uncertainty."
1107: Morrison is one the few stocks moving lower today. Analysts at Jefferies have lowered their target price on the company´s shares to 310p from 330p, while maintaining their buy recommendation. "Recent market share updates have highlighted soft trading momentum at Morrisons. We believe this likely reflects consumers trading down to discounters and continued online share shift. We now assume Christmas like-for-like (LFL) sales (to be reported on January 7th) to have fallen by 2.8 per cent, prompting a 3/4 per cent cut to mid-term estimates and a reduction in our 2013 target ambition to 310p. FTSE 100 up 115 points to 6,013.
1005: The Footsie has broken through the 6,000 barrier and is now trading up a whopping 110 points at 6,007; it has not closed higher since the end of April (Paris: FR0004037125 - news) 2011. Just three stocks on the blue-chip index are in the red as defensive sectors like tobacco and supermarkets bear the brunt of the increase in risk appetite. British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L - news) , Morrison and Sainsbury are all stuck in the red. Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) is performing well this morning after Investec (LSE: INVP.L - news) hiked its target price and hailed the lender as its 'preferred UK domestic bank' despite an impressive 79 per cent rally over the past five months. Even after the re-rating, the broker said that the shares are still trading 'only in line with loss-making RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) and at a peculiar discount to Lloyds'. These latter two banks are rated 'sell' by Investec.
0930: The Markit/CIPS UK purchasing managers´ index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector has come in at 51.4 for the month of December, comfortably above the 49.1 expected by the consensus and last month´s revised reading of 49.2.
0920: Miners are putting in a strong performance this morning, led by Evraz and Rio Tinto (Xetra: 855018 - news) , as investor confidence surges on the back on the deal in the US. Another stock making decent gains was BP (LSE: BP.L - news) , after it reported the successful start of production from the Skarv field in the Norwegian Sea, while Babcock and Weir were also on the up after the latter sold its 23m pound LGE business to the former. The FTSE 100 is up 89 points at 5,987.
0900: The Markit Eurozone purchasing managers´ index for the manufacturing sector has come in at 46.1 for the month of December, below the 46.3 expected by the consensus.
0820: The initial reaction by the top share index to Monday night´s fiscal -cliff compromise on Capitol Hill has been to attempt to barrel through technical resistance, with a quick initial spike higher towards the 6,000 point area. To be had in account, quite a few FTSE 250 (FTSE: ^FTMC - news) components will today go ex-dividend, including: Aveva, WH Smith (LSE: SMWH.L - news) , Dairy Crest (LSE: DCG.L - news) , Barr AG or ICAP (LSE: IAP.L - news) . Amec (LSE: AMEC.L - news) , Bunzl (LSE: BNZL.L - news) and Next (Other OTC: NXGPF - news) will pay out interim dividends. Of interest, almost 40 per cent of the 94 economists surveyed by the FT said the government should change the monetary policy remit. The manufacturing PMI for December is released at 09:28. Cyclicals are doing best, with Barclays in the lead. The consensus forecast is for an unchanged outturn of 49.1. FTSE 100 up 89 to 5,987.